Articles, Blog

2017 Toner Awards Ceremony featuring Ohio Governor John Kasich


– Welcome once again on
behalf of Syracuse University and the Newhouse School to the seventh annual Toner Prize Celebration. This event honors the
memory of Robin Toner, the first and so far only woman to be chief political reporter
of the New York Times. But more than that, it shines a spotlight on reporters who dig day in
and day out for the facts. Determined to keep us informed and our democracy functioning
even when the powerful try to hide the truth. It is our best answer to
politics that resembles a child’s board game that ended angrily. The Toner Prize applauds
those who do some of journalism’s best work
and most important work. The kind that is job one
at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal
and the Washington Post and Bloomberg and Politico
and Kaiser Health News and the Knight Foundation
and PBS and NPR and WETA, all long time supporters
of the Toner Prize. So is the Newhouse family,
they nourish job one at Syracuse University. I graduated from Syracuse back
when the earth was cooling. (audience laughing) I used to think our grandparents saw the greatest change in life. I mean my grandfather
literally was a horseback riding court reporter in Kansas and he lived long enough to
watch people walk on the moon. And yet just think I graduated
from Syracuse in 1969 and after that moonwalk,
what has changed since 1969 in our business and in the world, right? Well my friend Lorraine
Branham helped make our communication school one
of the finest in the country. And please welcome Dean
Branham, your host tonight. (audience clapping) – Thank you Bob for that very kind and generous introduction. Good evening everyone and thank
you for joining us tonight. As Dean of Syracuse
University’s SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the seventh annual
Toner Prize celebration. And this is out fifth
year here in Washington. We love to come down
to the nation’s capital because we know it’ll be warmer here. (audience laughing) And there will be no snow. And every once in a while the timing works out and there are cherry blossoms. Although I guess they’re a
little late this year so. But maybe soon, maybe before we leave. The Toner Prize and the
program of which it is a part has grown from a tiny
startup to one of the most prestigious awards in
American Political Journalism. We’re pleased to be able
to highlight talented political journalists whose work grows more important by the day. We’re also pleased that we
can celebrate one of our most distinguished alumni,
the late Robin Toner of the New York Times. We’re gratified that
political reporters across the country find the recognition that the Newhouse School and
the Toner program offer. Encouraging, supportive, and
something worth striving for. These are difficult days for journalism and for the nation, the work
of some of our finest reporters is under attack almost daily both from the highest reaches of government and the hate mongering
basement of the web. There hasn’t been a lot
of good news to report about news gathering as of late. Tonight I hope is different. We will honor a terrible
loss in the passing of our colleague Gwen Ifill of PBS. One of he most prominent political journalist in the country. But I also think it will
offer some substantial hope for the future of
journalism and for the role it plays in an engaged
pluralistic society. It now gives me pleasure
to introduce to you, someone who has some
good news and a bright spot to offer about journalism. Joe Goldman, who’s
organization stands with us in the effort to strengthen
the future of journalism. (audience clapping) Joe is president of
Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation creating to
help ensure that our political system withstands
the new challenges it faces. He was an investment director at Omidyar. A network which was
established by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar to harness
the creativity of business to the task of positive social change. In that role Joe helped established the Democracy Fund and
usher it to the status of an independent foundation in 2014. Democracy Fund tries to
strengthen the democratic process in three ways. First, it seeks bipartisan
solutions to make the electoral process more reflective of the will of an informed electorate. Secondly, it aims to help government and especially congress
overcome polarization and find solutions that
best serve the nation. Finally, it works to
ensure a vibrant public square that delivers information critical to the intelligent participation in the democratic process. Joe joins us tonight to discuss this third prong of the fund’s efforts. He will deliver news that
anyone concerned about a strong free press
should find encouraging. Please join me in welcoming Joe Goldman of the Democracy Fund. (audience clapping) – [Joe] Thank you. – Thank you Joe. – Thank you Lorraine. Again my name’s Joe Goldman,
I come bearing good news. So I’m here speaking on
behalf of the Democracy Fund as well as our colleagues
at First Look Media. On behalf of both of our organizations, I just really wanted to
thank Peter and everyone at the Newhouse School’s Toner program. It’s really wonderful to be here. Most of you I’m sure
are familiar with First Look Media and our
colleagues at the intercept who do such incredible
investigative reporting. First Look is also home to an array of other journalism programs
including Laura Poitras award winning documentary
unit, Field of Vision. And of course we’re all
in debt to First Look for producing the academy award winning film spotlight which so beautifully told the story of journalism at it’s best. (audience clapping) Michael Bloom, the president
of First Look Media and Betsy Reed, the
editor of The Intercept are here with us and just wanted to recognize them here tonight. (audience clapping) You may be less familiar with
The Democracy Fund however. As you’ve heard we’re
a bipartisan foundation created by Pierre Omiyadr. Since our inception about five years ago, we’ve invested more
than 50 million dollars in organizations working
to make sure the American people come first in our democracy. We work on a variety of different programs from modernizing our elections to building bridges across polarized divides. But from the beginning one
of the Democracy Fund’s core commitments was to foster a robust and vibrant Public Square. My colleagues who lead
our Public Square program are also with us tonight,
Tom Glaisyer, Josh Sterns, Paul Waters, Teresa
Gorman, and Estizer Smith. (audience clapping) So the reason I’m here,
the reason we’re here really comes back to
Lorraine’s initial comments. I don’t need to tell anyone
here that the kind of clear eyed, hard hitting,
political reporting that Robin Toner was
known for is under attack. For years this industry has
faced great economic challenges. Something that we at the Democracy Fund had been working on for some time now. But the politically motivated
attacks that we’ve seen against reporters over the past 18 months is something totally
different and represents something potentially toxic for an open and free society such as our own. We at the Democracy Fund
and First Look Media are here tonight because we believe these attacks cannot be ignored. My colleagues and I believe that a strong fourth estate is vital
to a healthy democracy. We want to do whatever we can to stand with you in this difficult moment. With that in mind I’m
happy to announce that on behalf of the Democracy
Fund and First Look Media, we are ready to give the largest grant either organization has made to date in support of journalism
and the free press. We specifically chose to make this announcement here tonight
because this evening is a celebration of
the best of journalism. Indeed that is what
Robin Toner represented for everyone who knew her. Tonight we’re announcing
more than 12 million dollars in grants from the Democracy
Fund and First Look Media. (audience clapping) These grants represent a
significant financial commitment towards excellence in journalism, but they don’t represent the end of our support. In the weeks and months
to come, we hope to work with you to find creative
ways to make sure that journalists have
the resources they need to do their jobs. Many of our grantees are here tonight. I’m gonna ask them to
stand and be recognized together, after I’ve
announced each of the grants. Our first set of grants will go to three national non-profit newsrooms. Each organization will
receive a grant of three million dollars over the next two years. These include the Center
For Investigative Reporting, the Center For Public
Integrity, and ProPublica. (audience clapping) I feel like I want to
say but that’s not all. (audience laughing) Additional funds will go the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, which will receive $500,000. (audience clapping) And a new investigative media
project led by Jay Rosen at NYU will receive a grant of $275,000. (audience clapping) First Look Media has also granted $550,000 to support a partnership
between the Intercept and the Investigative Fund
at the Nation Institute. (audience clapping) Additionally, to ensure that
these fearless journalists and so many others have
the legal protections they need, the Democracy
Fund is also announcing an $800,000 grant to
the Reporter’s Committee For The Freedom Of The Press. (audience clapping) Finally, following the lead
that the Knight Foundation set last year with their matching fund, I’m happy to announce the establishment of a new fund for local
and state reporting to support the essential journalism that’s taking place in
communities across the country. The fund will receive
an initial investment of one million dollars
from the Democracy Fund, which we hope will be
matched by other partners within philanthropy in the
weeks and months to come. (audience clapping) So we feel pretty good about the support. We hope that our support
for the field will enable journalist in the
tradition of Robin Toner, in the tradition of Gwen Ifill, to do their jobs with the integrity and commitment that we know is
so important for our country. I wanted to close by sharing a quote that isn’t very well known. It’s from an early Federalist
leader named Fisher Ames. While trying to explain the
difference between democracy and a more authoritarian
government, he said the following, “Monarchy is like a sleek
craft, it sails along “until some bumbling captain
runs it into the rocks.” He said, “Democracy on the
other hand is like a raft. “It never goes down but dammit
your feet are always wet.” (audience laughing) I think it’s an understatement
to say that lately all of our feet are a little soggy. But thanks to the many
journalists in this room and around the country,
I feel pretty confident that we’re not gonna run into the rocks. On behalf of the Democracy
Fund and everyone at First Look Media, I
really wanted to just thank everyone for the work you do now and that you’ll be doing in the future. It really is for the good of this country and for our democracy, thank you. (audience clapping) – To quote my grandmother
from Hiawatha, Kansas that is not a stick in the eye. (audience laughing) Wow. First time I ever went to
an event as plush as this, I took my grandmother and I
asked her,”What do you think “of this splendid gathering?” And she looked up from
her meal and she said, “I wonder who put up
all the folding tables.” (audience laughing) Well you can thank Robin’s
good friend John Chapel and Hawkeye Investments and
the Walton Family Foundation and it’s advisor Kiki McClain
and a lot of companies too. (audience clapping) Goldman Sachs, Finsbury,
and Google’s Washington Communications Executive Fetkaq Rutkoff. (audience clapping) Pharma has been with us
since the celebration came to Washington and the Democracy Fund, which you just heard from offered us something very special tonight. It is part of our geography of hope. You know I got to thinking
when I was sitting at the table that a lot of us are homesick
for places we have never been. That’s what pulls the
immigrants to America. And Kent Syverud is the same way. He started chasing his American dream right here in Washington, DC as a clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor. And now he holds the spotlight
for the next generation of students at Syracuse University. Would you please welcome the chancellor of Syracuse University,
my friend, Kent Syverud. (audience clapping) – On behalf of Syracuse
University, I want to welcome all of you to this wonderful event. I want to particularly
note that later tonight you’re gonna be hearing from Robin Toner’s adult children Peter and
Jake and Nora Gosselin. And I want to thank
them but I particularly want to recognize Peter
Gosselin, their father. Jake and Nora I think
you are blessed by both your parents in having been
able to work with Peter the last couple of years. I just feel very fortunate. I want to also recognize the dean of– (audience clapping) I want to recognize our
great dean of the Newhouse School, Lorraine Branham. I wan to thank Adam Clymer. (audience clapping) I want to thank Adam Clymer for helping recruiting our keynote
speaker and Charlotte Grimes, long time administrator of the Robin Toner program and political reporting. And also thank Life trustee Glen Chapel of Syracuse University for
his help in establishing the Toner award. Robin Toner was a great
journalist with dual degrees from Syracuse representing the
high ideals of the Newhouse School of Communications and
the passion for citizenship of the Maxwell School of
Citizenship And Public Affairs. Of course she was lost all too young and the Toner Prize is a
testament to her ideals. With us tonight are people who
are carrying on those ideals and that’s the students
of Syracuse University from Newhouse, Maxwell, and elsewhere. Could they all rise and be recognized? (audience clapping) Robin Toner saw journalism
as a true public service. She created change as
the first woman to be a national political correspondent
for the New York Times. She raised the bar with her courage to hold the powerful accountable. Her reporting was both
meticulous and illuminating. In her obituary the New
York Times said that Robin had authored more
than 1,900 articles while on staff there and
less than 10 required any kind of correction. The editor in chief of the Atlantic, at her passing said that Robin
was a genius of reporting. In fact she almost never
got anything wrong. It’s hard not to wonder
how Robin would have covered this last presidential campaign. I wonder how she would
have reacted to the state of politics in the media today. But I believe she would
have appreciated the recent words of our keynote
speaker, who last month told the press, “Thank God you are there “to hold people accountable.” Our speaker John Kasich,
this week was named by Fortune magazine as number 12 on the list of the world’s top leaders. He has been a dynamic leader of Ohio. He endured many months on
the 2016 campaign trail under the watchful eye of
many of the journalists present here tonight. Throughout the campaign
Governor Kasich remained grounded in integrity
and in his convictions. He promises to talk about his experience in a new book due out next month titled Two Paths, America Divided Or United. In the book Governor Kasich
addresses news media bias, the race for ratings, and the
proliferation of fake news. Governor Kasich is also the father of twin 17 year old daughters who
are now looking at colleges. So I’d ask you all to
join me in urging them to think Syracuse. (audience cheering) Ladies and gentlemen,
please join me in welcoming our keynote speaker, the
governor of the state of Ohio, John Kasich. (audience clapping) – I was gonna try a joke but then I saw how all the jokes have
gone over, pretty poorly, so I’m not even trying. (audience laughing) Other than to say if I
knew that we were gonna be honoring or helping
Syracuse University, you have Jim Boeheim, can
you send him to Ohio State. We didn’t even make the NIT this year huh? (audience laughing) I don’t quite know who’s
here, who’s in this crowd, so I don’t know if what I’m gonna say is gonna be meaningful to you or not. But I wanted to, I was
up on Capitol Hill today and I broke out into
cold sweat as I always do when I fly into town and
it had me thinking back. It had me thinking back to the 90s, so for a second I want to
take you back to the 1990s and think about it a little bit. Back in the eh 1990s you may recall that’s when Al Gore
invented the internet okay. (audience laughing) That’s when we all bought Nike shoes, not these young kids that are here. You know Michael Jordan was
a great basketball player for those of you who don’t know this and we bought Nike’s because we thought if we could wear them,
you know we literally could fly like Michael Jordan. We were all on the Titanic with Leo, who I happened to meet during
the presidential campaign and we were all told, not
any of you young people but everyone of us, the others. We were told that we needed
to dance the Macarena, you remember that, huh? (audience laughing) There were some other
things that were happening in the 1990s that I’d
like to remind you about. Number one is we reformed
the welfare system. I’m not sure that it’s been
reformed, it’s definitely not reformed to the degree
that I would like today but it was a big deal to see the Clinton administration and the Republican majority come together to try to
create an environment where people could get help but
then they could move on. That was landmark. It was in 1997 that we
actually balanced the budget. And was four years it
was balanced and we paid down the largest amount
of the publicly held debt and it was done by
Republicans and Democrats, even after a government shut down. It was during the period
of the balanced budget that we created the
Child Healthcare Program, Chips that many of you know about. Which has been sustained
now for over 20 years. And I was one of the partners
in that to try to make sure our kids and our children
would get what they need. It was also a time of very
significant Pentagon reform. When Chief Hawkes and
Democrats came together I had a relationship,
a partnership back then with Ron Dellums and we
put together a bipartisan coalition that changed that system. And it was also in the 90s when Tim Penny, former Democrat now
Independent, came with a group of Democrats and with
a group of Republicans that I led to try to cut a
penny out of every dollar only to be defeated by
a bipartisan coalition of appropriators in the
Democrat administration. It was very interesting, those
were much different times. You see back in those
days like we got along. Four o’clock every afternoon we’d go down to the gym and play basketball. And we would knock each
other around down there. In fact some of us got
hurt playing basketball and we loved it. And we hung out together down in that gym and we lifted weights
and threw the ball around and kidded and joked. We had dinners, where
Republicans and Democrats would get together and have
a dinner and a great laugh and maybe drink a little
bit or maybe drink a lot more than a little bit
and slap each other on the back and become people, not
Republicans and not Democrats. You could actually call
your Democratic colleague during a holiday and some of you didn’t think you were crazy, and wish them a Happy Hanukkah or a Merry
Christmas or a Happy Easter. It was also a time when we could celebrate each other’s children. Hey your kid just graduated
or your kid got in to, you know if they couldn’t
get into Ohio State they’d have to settle
for Yale or Princeton or something like that
or Syracuse you know. (audience laughing) But we did that and there were actual friendships that occurred. That’s gone. And today on the hill just talking to a few of the people up
there, I was in some ways astounded and then
towards the end of the day when I saw the milling around
the steps of the Capitol, I could sort of see a reason
maybe to be optimistic about the ability to get along. But they have to create
these personal relationships where they decide that
the country matters, and their own political
careers, or the country matters more than
reporting to the Democratic National Committee or the
Republican National Committee. I like to say the
Republican party has only been my vehicle never my master. Where the heck did we
get to the point where we thought we had to line
up with our political operations in order to feel that we were making contribution and
we have total dysfunction. Total dysfunction up there. And it just didn’t start now
in the last hundred days, this has been going on
for a long period of time. We didn’t get here overnight
but I’ll tell you a story. Before I left the house
I saw an inkling of this. I can remember being on the floor one day talking to Pat Schroeder. I always liked pat Schroeder,
she ran for president, I wasn’t going to vote
for her but I liked her, I liked her a lot. And I can remember walking
through the well of the house and having some Republican sitting there smart aleck saying, “Why would
you ever talk to that woman?” For those that remember me
in the days of Capitol Hill, that was not something
you said to me without expecting a return comment. And I straightened him out. We have a budget association here tonight that’s connected to
this fund for democracy. I can remember being
in the budget committee which was one of the most
frankly philosophical, ideological committees on the hill. And I can remember my
Republican colleagues saying you know we’re not
going to sit here all night. We’re gonna shut the Democrats
up and I said wait a minute folks, do you know what
a pressure cooker is? My mother explained it to me. If you have ever seen a
pressure cooker it whistles and the reason it whistles
is because it lets the steam out because if
the steam didn’t come out the whole thing would explode. Not only are we not gonna shut them up but we need to figure out what
we’re gonna give them to win. Because if all they do is
lose, we’re all gonna lose. So, and then we entered
an era where people gave up bowling and they took up politics. (audience laughing) And here’s what they do. If you’re a conservative, you
read conservative newspapers or conservative newspaper,
conservative editorials, you watch conservative television, and you listen to Rush Limbaugh. And you know everything
there is to know about the way the world should work. And if you’re a liberal
of course you read liberal newspapers, you watch Rachel
Maddow and you love it. And maybe you read the Huffington Post and you’re now an expert. You see you know everything
that there is to know. And then we feed ourselves
day in and day out with material that reinforces everything that we happen to believe. And if there is anything
that we don’t believe we know that’s fake news. See that’s where we are. I wish people would go back to bowling. (audience laughing) Because in the process
of this, what happens is there’s this polarization
and you know here’s what’s really amazing, I read an article I think it was in the New York Times about a woman that changed,
she was getting married, she decided she couldn’t
have the wedding in America because fist fights
would break out because of the political differences. So she moved her wedding to Italy, wish I had gone to that one. (audience laughing) But the fact of the matter
is, think about this, families are fighting. You know I have an
editor for this new book I have and he told me I wish you’d come to Christmas with us because my Uncle Joe sits next to me and we fight all day long. He has one set of views and he reads stuff and I have another set of views. There’s no tolerance, this is America. I mean people on Facebook,
they’re unfriending people on Facebook ’cause somebody
said something the wrong way. And I had a cable guy come
to my house and a doctor by the way, had this conversation twice. Both of whom I hope will move up. The cable guy into a
more management position, the doctor into running something big. He said the way things are going now, don’t express your political views. Believe me I’m there, I
live there every single day. For me, I’m not looking for
anything, doesn’t bother me but for others it’s a shame. And compromise, oh my God compromise. That’s the dirtiest word
on the face of the earth. Now I’ve just got to ask people, what do we do in life
where we don’t compromise. Where does it happen in life that we get every single thing we want? It doesn’t. And so you know what’s so
funny, people who aren’t in politics look at politics and they say they’re all a bunch of bozos. I say well how’s it going in your life? (audience laughing) No I’m serious. I had a guy out, I went
to this Allen Company event in Arizona and all
these high tech guys. One guy raises his hand and he says, “Why do politicians pay
attention to polls?” I said, “Well you pay
attention to polls too, “they just happen to be different. “I want to know when you
tell your customers no.” So don’t just start
holding somebody else up, look yourself in the mirror and figure out how you’re carrying on because we need more leadership everywhere. Now I mentioned a couple
things I think were great creations, social security,
Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, the Child Health Program, the tax reform of ’86. I may mention one other
now as I’m standing here. Civil rights. (audience clapping) These things happened because both parties stamped them approved. Nothing, not Obamacare and not whatever this other thing was okay. (audience laughing) None of them are
sustainable because if both parties don’t dig in,
it becomes nothing more than a ping pong match
at a political target. And this is just, it’s just,
I’ve got two 17 year old daughters, this is not what I
want my country to look like. I went over to England,
I was over in London after I went to this Munich conference that John McCain invited me to and I was sitting in the
Parliament with some of the members and I was asking them you
know this parliamentary system, does the Labor
ever talk to the Tories, the Tories ever talk to the Labor? And they’re like, “Oh
yeah, I’ve got a bill “I’m doing with this guy
from the Labor party.” I’m becoming convinced that we
have a stronger parliamentary system in America than
they have in Great Britain. You just need I believe to think about it. So what about you, journalists? First of all, I had a
dinner with you know like the 1% a few weeks ago and I was flabbergasted at what I was hearing. The media is biased. Now I’m normally thinking
I’m hearing that from people who gave up bowling, but I’m
talking here to the top 1%. So I just had a reporter
tell me that she’s doing a story about the
collapse of the housing industry here, the money we
provide for public housing. And I’m gonna talk about what Trump did. I said, “Well wait a minute, the problem “with the housing stuff didn’t
start with Donald Trump. “What about Barack Obama, he should have “had this stuff fixed and he didn’t.” Now if you write a story
and you spend all your time talking about Trump, then you
just discredited yourself. Because I argued with
these elites, I argued with them about no she don’t
understand how it works. But I’ve also learned as
a leader, as a governor, and as a person who’d
been around a long time, it often times doesn’t matter if you’re right if you’re losing the ballgame. You’ve got to listen to
what other people say. It doesn’t mean you have
to cave, you have to do what they want but you better listen. So I’m concerned about
this, so what about you? Content is king, you know
that’s what really matters. It’s not all about how many clicks you get or what this outrageous headline is and by the way those who write the stories, make sure that the headline kind of reflects what
you have in the content. Maybe they say that’s not your job, well make it your job. Because I don’t want to write something and have somebody say well you know and kind of discredit everything
I have in the content. People need more content. Let me give you one thing that I think you all need to think about
in the field of journalism. You know this, we worry
now about these folks that felt they were disenfranchised. No jobs or partial jobs
or any of these things that we read about that’s
created economic disruption and a lot of anger and frustration. Do you know what’s coming
with the digital revolution? I mean we’re not gonna
have, the number one occupation in America is driving. We’re gonna have fully autonomous vehicles within the next 10 years. What’s gonna happen to those people? Are we gonna wake up one
day and say oh my God everybody’s losing their
jobs now we better get to it? Think about the automobile. Some company told me the other day we will hire no engineers that
understand a combustion engine we’re not interested because we want to have the electric motor. Auto assembly lines are
gonna be shrunk in half. If you think we have
anger and anxiety now, you take these major industries, you know people now say well I can’t get a job I’ll get one at McDonald’s. How long do you think
that’ll last with the kiosks that are gonna go in? In other words this country
needs to prepare itself for what’s coming. Not react to what is
happening once it happens. It will be to late or
it will be so difficult. Content that provides interesting things to the mothers and fathers who
could have children at risk matters and people in this
country need to hear it because it’s a coming tsunami. When the election was
over I had a conversation with one of the big cheeses in television. And I said, “So okay you
made a billion dollars, “okay a billion dollars,
you even got ratings “when you just put a podium up. “It didn’t even have to
be anybody behind it. “But you kept doing it because the cash “register kept ringing. “Now the election is over, “are you gonna be willing,
and they’re gonna tell you “you need to make another
billion, you made a billion “the last year you’ve got
to make a billion this year. “So the question is, are you gonna be able “to live with yourself? “So why don’t you think about
the values that make you feel “good and the values that
you try to communicate “to your children and then figure out “how you ought to do programming?” And you know what he said? “Thanks for calling me, you’re right.” He said, “You’re right, that’s what “I do have to think about.” Because at the end of
the day they’ll never remember him for how much
money he made for any network. They’ll remember him the same
way you remember Robin Toner. And the same way we’re
gonna remember Gwen Ifill. Because they stood for
something and they had values and they were successful
and Robin was a pioneer. So was Gwen, she was a pioneer as well. (audience clapping) So, let me also say that
what about our leaders. You know honest to goodness,
I try to think back to what, when I was a
congressman I guess the first couple of terms I would
have done about anything to be reelected but by the
end of it I became more and more, I became more
and more realistic. Frankly I didn’t make a lot of concessions even back then to be honest with you. But I guess I kind of
thought I’d keep my job. But these people cling
to these jobs because it becomes their identity
and they just keep wanting to keep their
jobs because they keep getting tickets and
invites and they walk into a room, they may be able to
even get up and make a talk. You see power, and this is
a failure for all of us, these young people that are here tonight, power never comes from the outside in. We have a guy tonight who
went and helped the new leaders of Syracuse to get on their feet. Tonight he’s sitting with
his father at a hospice. His father, his power
never, it doesn’t matter. If it came from the outside
in it doesn’t matter. Power, if you are going to be a healthy and strong individual
comes from the inside out. And so these jobs
sometimes, you gotta walk. I’m sorry I’m not doing that. We’ll defeat you, well then
go ahead and take my job. You know the funny thing
about it is when you stand up and you lead, they never throw you out. It’s only the illusion that
they will throw you out. But people don’t get
elected in public life because somehow they got the right issue. Nobody even knows what the
issues are until recently. They get elected because they give people a sense that they know what they’re doing, and they’re strong and they’re a leader. And we have to have these
conversations with our leadership, with the leadership
that you cover privately ’cause I’ve got a lot
of friends in the media privately that can give
advice to public officials. And sometimes when they do
something special, notice it. Everything doesn’t have to be negative. Notice when they do something positive. And for the public, (audience clapping) Thank you. (audience clapping) So the public has to
come out of the silos. So somebody said to me, “Well
how is that gonna ever happen? “What is the answer to this problem?” And I kept saying, “I
don’t have a good answer.” But you know I’ve been
thinking about it lately. You know what, I don’t think this problem of polarization or division or intolerance can be solved from the top down. And think about this for a second. Drugs, opiates, when we
pick up the newspaper and we read about some 24 year old kid who dies of a heroin overdose, is that a Republican or a Democrat issue? I think we mourn equally. And if we know the family
it doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat
we mourn with the family. That doesn’t mean a darn thing. Liberal, conservative, doesn’t matter. We have a big battle in this country. Fighting this war on drugs. ‘Cause I can send all the stuff I want, congress can send all
the stuff and we should and we should do more but
at the end of the day, it’s who live next door to you. Let me give you another issue, poverty. You know the food banks,
you ever go to food banks, you ever see who goes in there? They’re us, they’re not somebody else. They look and act and
hurt and cry and laugh with their children just like we do. So in my city at least,
the Kroger food store says when you pay your bills would you round up for the food bank? Nobody that’s there saying well does this go to Democrats or Republicans? Everybody rounds up. And you can go into that food bank and see people who take a turn to just give people something to eat and that ain’t Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative, it’s humanity. Infant mortality, (audience clapping) we have a, think about this. You ever read in a paper about
these little babies that die? Is there anything that
we read of that hurts us more than to think about a
little baby that can’t make it? You know a big part of this
answer, not the whole answer, but a big part of this
answer, is when somebody in the community where there’s
a young woman at risk says I’m taking you to the doctor. Yep, you’re going in my
car, we’re going on Monday, and I will be ringing your
doorbell and we’re going, and the people in that
church where she goes, it says we’re not just
gonna have your baby born but now we’re gonna be
with you to make sure that that baby can thrive and grow. That’s not Republican or Democrat. That’s for all of us. Veterans, I mean is this
the most ridiculous thing. People go out, they go to
war, they leave the country, they’re out there serving us, they come home, they can’t get a job. Are you trying to tell me
that in our communities we can’t push each other to find out how we can get veterans a job? Or the issue of our seniors. I was in New Hampshire when I was running and I don’t even know how
this happened but I’m at this big town hall and
I said anybody here, I don’t even know, I said, “Anybody “here ever lose their spouse?” This guy raises his hand. I said, “How long were you married sir?” “I was married 67 years,
you know I’m 83 years old “and my wife died.” I said, “Anybody come to see you?” He goes, “Well not usually,
my family lives out of town.” I said, “Who’s gonna
take this guy to dinner?” Who’s that on, caring about our seniors, that’s not Republican or
Democrat or the education issues or the issues of race. I was down at, Bernice
King invited me to Atlanta. I mean thank you God for
giving me a chance to be heard. Somebody, we were at about
200 people in this room and somebody raises, what about Trump? I said well today I’m standing outside the Martin Luther King’s home
with my 17 year old daughter and I was thinking about
Martin Luther King. He didn’t fix this country
by going to the big shots. The big shots did have any
time for Martin Luther King, it’s too political. He went neighbors and
churches and got everybody through the force of will
and the force of morality to force those at the
top to change the laws. You see I happen to believe that by having people forget their party’s and to forget their ideology and sit and work on these fundamental problems, that we can break down these walls again by focusing and concentrating on those things that are about our humanness,
not about our politics. And then maybe after we are
together at the food bank or in the school or
fighting the opiate crisis we can begin to heal these differences. And begin to listen to one another and understand one another
a little bit better. For all of you, there’s nothing more
important than the free press. I mean, I watched over in
Kiev they gunned that guy down just what a week ago, the enemy of Putin. And just yesterday I
watched, could you imagine being, tell me one of those people to go out and stand across Russia and speak out against Putin. Can you imagine what that would be like? The next thing you know you’re sitting in a God darn jail, may
in a gulag somewhere. But the first thing he tried to do, and it’s the same thing
that’s happening in Turkey. It happens whenever
there are authoritarians, we’re gonna shut you down and you’re gonna become
a mouthpiece for us. Boy that’s the beginning of the end of human rights, and freedoms. I was thinking the other
night, objective reality. See that’s what you are,
if you’re an opinion writer that’s fine okay, you
have to have your opinion but if you’re covering the news it’s about objective
reality, what you see. Two cars were driving down the street, one ran into the other one
and here’s what we have. We rely on you to tell
us what the truth is. And you create a lot of humility ’cause you hold the people who have,
oh how the mighty have fallen. And you contribute to that. I was in the press for 10 years. Not like a lot of you
professionals are, I mean come on, I was on television okay. (audience laughing) No that mattered but
I’m running a kind of, (audience laughing) no I mean look, television is just as, anytime that we think it’s
all about the internet or it’s all about Facebook or whatever, if you’re a politician
or if you’re an ad guy working for a company
you put it on television. Television matters, but you’re
serious journalists okay. Was I serious, I tried my best okay. But okay, I did as well as I could do. But I so, and this is not suck up because I’m giving you the negative. I so respect journalism and
journalist and what you do to deliver the truth. And I don’t care who attacks
you and who criticizes you, you do your job and you will be surprised and shocked how many people
will man the barricades to protect what you do. And tonight, (audience clapping) is for Robin Toner, again and her husband who keeps this thing going. I saw a young reporter
on Capitol Hill today, she said,”I’m sorry I
can’t be there tonight “but I love going there.” What a woman, broke all kinds of barriers. And Gwen, I love Gwen
Ifill, boy she was so smart and so kind, and she did her
job and you didn’t cross Gwen. But she did it with such
class and such a great sprit that I have to say that I, I miss her. I miss her laugh and
her presence and the way she thought about things. So it’s really an honor
for me to be able to be here tonight and to be with all of you. And I just have a sense deep in my soul that we’ll get through this time but it’s gonna take all
of us, not just one or two and not just the people at the top but most important, where
we live in our neighborhoods with our families and our friends. So God bless you and
thank you all very much for allowing me to be here, thank you. (audience clapping) (audience talking at once) – Governor Kasich is gonna be with us to enjoy a
glass of wine as much as we enjoyed your speech, thank
you so much, appreciate it. We all know what is, and we
think we know what ought to be but not many of us recall what was. When Gwen Ifill and Robin
Toner were young journalists, women faced a lot of closed doors. Reporters who desperately needed a hand were offered theirs. The way those two friends
followed their careers created a portal for
thousands of us to follow. Both Robin and Gwen died too soon, but their kindness lives on. That is why tonight we
are honoring a minority journalists in Gwen Ifill’s name. And here to tell us about
it is her brother Bert. (audience clapping) – I’m on, I think I am yes. Just want to make a personal observation. I realize I’m the fourth person up here wearing a shiny gray suit. (audience laughing) So I guess I got the memo. (audience laughing) Well I wanted to thank
the Newhouse School, the Robin Toner Prize and
particularly Peter Gosselin for inviting me up here to say a few words about a person we all came to love, all came to know, all
came to be inspired by, my sister Gwen Ifill. As we all know, Gwen was
committed to this program, to this Robin Toner Prize,
serving on the board and I think she was also
committed to what it stands for. Celebrating powerful, great journalism. In particularly two important principles, getting the facts right and
getting the right facts. I remember meeting Robin
some years ago actually when she and Gwen were
in the Washington Bureau of the New York Times and I noted that they had a particularly
close relationship. Almost like sisters, in
many ways like sisters they consoled each other,
consulted with each other, confided with each other,
celebrated each other’s triumphs, commiserated over
each other’s frustrations. And like sisters they competed
against each other fiercely. But I think they also shared the values you’ve heard so much about tonight. About being courageous
in farding out the truth. Being fanatical about getting the truth out there for people to see. About being accurate, about being clear, and about being human and humane. That the stories we’ve read
from Gwen and from Robin are always testimonies to the
humanness of the subjects, whether it was politicians
or their politics. And I think bringing us
closer to those politicians as people brought us
closer to the politics, got us closer to the issues,
got us closer to enlightenment. I think another thing
and maybe I can speak as someone who knew Gwen all of her life, is that among the things
that was really important to Gwen was the notion,
not only of her faith that sustained her during
that last difficult year, but also her commitment to family. And in Gwen’s mind, family
wasn’t just simply people that shared DNA, family were people that you can depend upon. And when she considered
herself part of your family, you could depend upon her. You could depend upon
her for advice, sometimes very stringently applied advice. You could depend upon her to share your triumphs and your joys
as well as your sorrows. And I can say as a member of the family, that she loved sharing. She loved sharing those
mountaintop moments with us. I like to say when people
ask, “You know have “you ever felt that you
were in her shadows? “She was this wonderfully famous “journalist and commentator.” I said, “Well to quote Mick
Jagger’s little brother Chris, “no I never was in her
shadows, I was in her light.” Because she shared her
light with all of us. (audience clapping) And she got the greatest joy
in that sharing with family. Family that included again
not only her relatives but so many of her colleagues. And among the things she was proudest of was being able to share
what she learned coming up the hard way as pioneer along
with Robin in the business. She was not one of those
folks, that once attained her position of
prominence, folded her arms and blocked the door for
anyone to come after. In fact, what she would
do is she would find out where the secret passages are. Where the doors that
were locked and the doors that were unlocked were and she would point them out to the
people that would come after. So her major contribution
is probably yet to be seen. Not just simply her
sterling form of journalism, but really her opening of doors, opening of opportunities,
it’s not only about getting the facts right,
but getting the right facts. Getting the stories told
that otherwise would not be. And that leads me to essentially the first honoree in Gwen’s name, Yamiche Alcindor (audience clapping) I will say that the example
that Gwen and Robin set are extraordinarily lofty ones. And it might seem to be
difficult for anyone else to achieve or even approach. But in the work in her
relatively brief career, Ms. Alcindor has done more than simply meet those expectations. The fact that her hard hitting journalism exposes us to stores that would otherwise be buried or even ignored and force us to in fact consider and
contemplate the lives of people we otherwise would not consider. The fact that her writing is
sparklingly clear and direct and at her presence in
person on news programs has been not only direct and clear but unmistakeably honest,
unmistakably committed to getting those stories out. In my mind, I’m thinking of Gwen smiling down on us right now, and really saying how
proud she is that the first journalist honored in
her name is Ms. Alcindor. So I want you to greet her and thank her. (audience clapping) Got it. I have a little something for you. (audience clapping) – Thanks so much, thanks so much Mr. Ifill and Robin Toner’s family and the board for selecting me for this honor. And thanks to my fiance and
fellow reporter Nathaniel for being here and supporting
me through the work that I do. I’m incredibly humbled to be recognized among a sea of journalists
who are working as hard as me to tell these stories. The first time I met
Gwen, I walked up to her and I was utterly amazed and
I said, “My name’s Yamiche “but you can me Miche if you want to.” And she quickly stopped me
and said,”Own your name. “Own who you are and don’t
let people name you.” And what she was telling me in essence was to be who you are, to own
what is important to you. To take all the things, all
the experiences that you have and pour them into your stories. Fast forward several
years and I was weighing whether to come to the New York Times, which I weighed I know. (all laughing) And again she encouraged me to understand the opportunity but to also recognize what I brought to the table. It was in that conversation
that I thought about why I became a journalist
in the first place. And I was inspired by
the murder of Emmit Till and the courage of his
mother to open that casket and to allow the world to see her son. Now I’m a journalist who
has spend the afternoon, just this afternoon talking to a woman who is making $40,000 a year and is trying to raise a family of four and who bought her home
using a federal program that is staged, that may
be cut under President’s Trump administration,
and I thought to myself that I am doing the work that while sometimes makes me frustrated
and while sometimes takes time is the work that I want to do. I’m a reporter who ultimately is energized by civil rights issues
and who believes in those issues are at the center
of the political debates that we’re having currently. And Gwen told me sometimes
that people simply can’t picture you in
positions and that you have to often make people
believe in your skills and will yourself through your own talent to be in those positions. She said and I quote, “It’s
important to be reminded “how easily we can be denied
simple and obvious opportunity, “how low the feelings can
get, and how much fortitude “it takes to refuse to accept the limits “that others place on you. “But now you have the skills
to transcend those limits.” Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff
transcended those limits when they became the first all female team to anchor PBS news hour. (audience clapping) Robin Toner transcended those limits when she became the first
woman to be the national, a national political correspondent
for the New York Times and covered five presidential campaigns. (audience clapping) And to receive this honor in their name reminds me that I too can transcend limits even if the ceilings remain low. Thank you so much. (audience clapping) (dishes clanging)
(audience talking) – I’m a TV guy, I love
looking at pictures. Robin Toner and her life charted a course that changed America’s
political reporting. The Prize given in her name
honors those who do the same. We know why this celebration began, here’s how. Peter Gosselin, her husband won a lot of reports, most of you know he’s an investigative reporter. And being an investigative reporter, he wins a lot of awards. Back in the day, Robin was
a political reporter who got to report more politics. So, Peter figured that
it might be a little cosmic twist because as he now admits, she was the better writer
and the better reporter. To actually give a a prize in her name for outstanding political coverage. Tonight Robin’s son and
daughter will hand out those awards and also tell you
a little bit more about their mom. And there were also this
year be an honorable mention because after last year
and it’s in your face kind of politics and on
your phone confrontation, it has produced a great deal
of very dramatic coverage. One of our judges Adam Clymer, the former New York Times political
editor is here to explain. (audience clapping) – Thank you very much for joining us in honoring Robin and Gwen. And I’ve been a judge of the finals since this contest began. In seven years we’ve
never have had, excuse me, we once had more entries than this years but 147 was a lot. I think it might have been even bigger if reporters who had been
covering the campaign had had a normal post election period where they might have
collected their articles and submitted them instead they were busy covering the insanity that followed. One thing we didn’t get this year, was as many articles
about campaign finance and dark money as we’ve
seen in recent years. And I hope that subject
doesn’t get forgotten because while dark money
may not have affected the presidential election,
it certainly affected legislatures and the
congressional elections as well. But most important thing
about this year’s contest, I’ve never seen winners superior to these. They rank with all the best that we’ve had in the seven years of this award and I’m not sure that I’d be
surprised if I could sit back and count in a year when
we had two such brilliant examples of important political
reporting that we had. Now to describe them
more generally or more exactly rather and to present the awards are two of Robin Toner’s most
treasured accomplishments. Nora Gosselin, a sophomore at Brown, Jake Gosselin, a sophomore
at the University of Chicago, and come on up, you take over for me. (audience clapping) – Good evening everyone. At this event last month,
I quoted a story my mom wrote two decades ago
about a just finished fight over health reform. Reality she said, often
seemed to be just another subject for debate in
the healthcare struggle but it has a way of
reasserting itself when the shouting is over. As it’s been said, we
once believed our country was built on a foundation of truth, of reality, now it seems
that reality is negotiable. Suddenly we’re faced not
with the binary of fact and falsehood that we
can trust, but a spectrum of upside down inside out claims yelled by some of the most powerful
people in our country. It’s been a tough year for facts and it’s required
journalists like you to work and work hard, relentless
against the shouting. I watched my mom work at
this enormous endeavor for years, chewing at her fingernails, scribbling and scribbling over again. Threads of stories she
knew she had to pursue, had to write for the
people who are most removed from power and most effected. I can’t even imagine what my mom would have had to have
said about the current state of truth in this country. But I can so clearly imagine
what she would have done. Get out her legal pad, her pen, and her tape recorder, and go at it. The workhouse in my mom would
have loved the meticulous, relentless drive for facts found in the works of this
years honorable mentions. While many news outlets
covered the content of the infamous DC emails,
this group of reporters, followed the thread further, asking where did these leaks come from. What they uncovered in
their thread pulling was a disturbing
disconnect between the FBI and the DC that led to one
of the most high profile cyber attacks of modern politics. As one of our judges
put it, this was great reporting on the most important political story of the year or perhaps the century. As the leaks came to public attention and members of congress began
to call for an investigation, this Time’s story was cited
again and again as a common set of carefully arranged
facts, a reestablishment of reality that spurred
government response, this work is a testament to all that good workhorse journalism can accomplish. For this I am thrilled to award the Tonor Honorable Mention to
David Sanger, Scott Shane, and Eric Lipton of the New
York Times for their piece, The Perfect Weapon, How Russian
Cyberpower Invaded The US. (audience clapping) – Thank you so much. – Thank you. (audience clapping) – [Audience] Go Nora. (audience clapping) – Well thank you very much. Thank you Nora, it’s a particular honor to get this award from you. If you’re mom was here
and certainly her spirit and repertorial brilliance
remains with us today, she’d be delighted to see everyone, all of her friends who are here. But the only thing that
would really matter to her I think is seeing you and Jake, the light of her life as such wonderful, accomplished adults, enjoying Brown and the University of Chicago. (audience clapping) It doesn’t seem so long ago, and pardon me for saying this Nora and Jake, that I remember taking the two of you and my youngest son with Robin to the zoo. So it’s particularly sweet to
receive this award from you. Tonight on behalf of
the Times and Scott here and Eric Lipton who unfortunately couldn’t be with us tonight. Little known fact, Scott here and Robin shared a birthday, not just a birthday but the birthday, the month, and year. So they were making pretty
good reporters that day. (audience laughing) Eric, who as I said couldn’t be here was really a force of nature
in assembling the narrative of this remarkable episode
in American politics. And I’d also like to thank Bill Hamilton, who edited the piece
and Elisabeth Bumiller who drove it into the paper,
for their great talents. (audience clapping) They always make us look better and read better than we deserve and we never admit that in the office so. Robin was a great friend
and a great colleague through much of the
more than three decades that I’ve been a reporter at the Times. We arrived at about the same time and like Gwen another great friend who we lost far too early, she mixed incisive reporting with clear thinking and a wonderful arch view of the world. I miss her every day
but this past week when the politics of healthcare turned into an epic political failure,
I think millions of Times readers missed her as well. She left a hole in the
newsroom and in our hearts. Sometimes in the midst of
the chaos and confusion of the past few months, I think it’s easy to forget what a
remarkable story this was. The tale of a foreign power,
really for the first time messing in the innards
of an American election. Using a mix of the newest cyber techniques and Stalin era information warfare. We’re still exploring the
depths of what happened. I think if Robin was here tonight, she’d say a few things to us. The first is she’d look at me and say, “Don’t let it go to your head Sanger, “it’s only the runner-up okay. (audience laughing) “Try harder next time.” (audience laughing) Then she’d note that her
wonderful brother Mark, Mark Toner who’s been the deputy, (audience clapping) Where’s Mark? (audience clapping) There he is. Say, “Hasn’t he been a really
great deputy spokesman and you “didn’t give him a hard enough
time I think, she’d say.” (audience laughing) And then I think she’d remind us that what Scott and Eric and
I delved into was really just the first chapter of a
story that’s still going on and she’d be all over us about
where we’re taking it next. And then as a last
moment I think she’d say, “Nora and Jake, wow.” So thank you all very much. (audience clapping) – Good job. (audience clapping) – I really love that story
that Chancellor Syverud shared earlier tonight about my mom and her habit of
self-editing her own raw copy because I think that
story serves as a concrete reflection of her dedication
to getting it right. A dedication that sometimes
bordered on obsession. And I think it holds
particular significant tonight because this characteristic of my mom is shared by this year’s winner. As Adam Clymer just
said, we had many, many great submissions this
year, but this reporter’s dedication to seeing his story through, to keep digging and digging
set him apart from the pack. His series began at a
rally in Waterloo, Iowa last February in the course of trying to confirm a campaign promise
given by now President Trump. Our winner began a nine month journey, exposing the now infamous
Trump foundation. I can go on for hours
about what made the series so special but in the interest of time, I will highlight only
one unique aspect of it. In the course of his reporting, our winner took to Twitter to detail his work and crowdsource for information. And this culminated in and epic search for a life sized portrait of Donald Trump that had been purchased
using his charity’s funds. In doing so, he inadvertently
created in his own words, an army of strangers, one which included billionaires, celebrities,
and stay at home mothers. I highlight this because not only was it wildly entertaining
but because as someone who watched this unfold
last September, I was struck that there was something
oddly beautiful about it. A group of people never
having met one another before, became bound together
by a shared desire to, as Nora just put so
beautifully, assert the facts. I can’t think of anything that
would have made mom happier. It is my distinct honor to
present this year’s Toner Prize to David Fahrenthold
of the Washington Post. (audience clapping) – Thank you, thank you
so much Jake and Nora for the introduction, thanks Peter
for organizing this event. Thank you Governor Kasich
for being here tonight. I am so thrilled to be
here, to be part of an event that honors Robin Toner. I didn’t know Robin Toner, I didn’t have the honor of knowing her
but like everybody else in this room, I knew her work. And like everybody else in this room, I was jealous of it. Her stories had sort of
a powerful ease to them that I always admired and
always wanted to recreate in my stories, kind of a
conversational clarity. You know you never struggled through one of her stories, you skated through it. When you got to the other side, suddenly you knew everything you
wanted to know about, well let me pick a few
examples she wrote about. Democrats, poor fortunes in the south, Republican tying themselves in knots over right wing orthodoxy,
blue collar voters turning on Washington
insiders because of trade. She had covered all those things by 1992 and the politicians of
the time that had been bested by those trends told her that they had learned their lessons and would never be surprised by them again. So in these hard to explain
times in Washington, we all take Robin’s example
to work with us every day. So I’m so glad to be here to say how grateful I am for that example. I wanted to thank a few people who are here in the room with me. My wife Elizabeth Lewis, who’s sitting here in the front row. When Elizabeth married me, (audience clapping) when Elizabeth married me I was the Post’s New England correspondent, the last New England correspondent. I covered things like lobster larceny. (audience laughing) Not larcenous lobsters but
people stealing lobsters. It’s a big deal in Maine, and a man in New Hampshire who had grown a 1300 pound pumpkin. The point is that I seemed harmless then. But then last year Elizabeth wound up handling breakfast and bedtime
with our two girls by herself night after night while I was at work. She found herself with
me sitting at our kitchen table with a security
expert the Post had hired after I received a death threat, who was evaluation whether our house was vulnerable to a car bomb. So, I’m grateful that
she gave up so much time, sacrificed so much, put herself
in all these situations, a and also served as the
sounding board for me through endless evenings of
me talking through my stories and my reporting problems so thank you. (audience clapping) Also a lot of folks from
the Post here tonight. I just want to say thank
you to some editors, Terri Rupert, Steven
Ginsberg, Scott Wilson, Cameron Barr, and Marty Barron. Marty’s not here but it was sort of him that gave me the idea that really changed the course of last year for me, which was after we had seen then candidate Trump basically try to wriggle out of a promise to give a million dollars to veterans that he wanted to say he’d
given it but he actually hadn’t given it, Marty
came back to me and said, “You know we should look
more, we should look deeper, “we should go back and say, recognizing “that this person
apparently tried to get out “of a promise to veterans
under the brightest “spotlight we have in American journalism, “the middle of a presidential campaign, “what was he doing before
when nobody was looking? “So go back and look at
the charitable promises “he was making then and
the follow through.” That changed the course of my year and it sort became the project
for the next several months. I tell that story both because
it’s true and very important, but also because if they make the movie, Democracy Dies In
Darkness, their not gonna include any of those other editors. (audience laughing) So, I want to make sure
that I get my part. (audience clapping) I also wanted to say thank you to a couple of other folks who are not
here but are very important. The Graham family, Don
Graham, Katherine Weymouth, who built our great newspaper. Jeff Bezos, who is infused with ambition, creativity, and great talent at this time when we need it most. So thank you to the Graham
family and to Jeff Bezos. (audience clapping) I also last and most important
want to say thank you to Alice Crites, our
tireless Post researcher, (audience cheering)
(audience clapping) whose searching in the
deep caves of the internet led to so many phone numbers and clips and other things that
I used in my reporting. The most difficult job
that I gave Alice last year was, I wanted to know when Donald Trump fired Khloe Kardashian on the Celebrity Apprentice and promised to
give her charity a donation to soften the blow, what did Khloe Kardashian say in response. You’d think this was an
easy assignment, it is not. (audience laughing) Somehow nearly all
records of what was said on the Celebrity Apprentice
have been scrubbed from the earth and from human memory (audience laughing) by NBC or a higher power,
it’s gone, Alice found it. After days and days of
searching she tracked down the transcript of what
Khloe Kardashian had said. What Khloe Kardashian said
was, “It is what is it.” (audience laughing) So, we didn’t use that. (audience laughing) For all of you who know researchers, who are researchers that’s the life. Sometimes you find the pot
at the end of the rainbow and what’s in it is not
gold, but dirty dishwater and it is what it is. So I just wanted to say
one thing about now, the moment we’re in now. We live in a time of
enormous power for the news media in Washington. I really mean that power. Although we have been derided by some as purveyors of fake news
or as enemies of the people. The reality is that in
today’s chaotic Washington, those with power often lack
the unity and discipline to control the way the world sees them. The public relies on us,
the new media more than ever to make sense of what just happened. Often those who have power depend on us to tell what just happened to them. For instance, how did Vice-president Pence find out that the national second advisor had misled him about contacting
the Russian ambassador. He read about it in the Washington Post. How did the house Republicans find out that their healthcare
bill had been pulled? They learned about it
from the Washington Post and the failing New York Times (audience laughing) that the president had
called in this moment because apparently he
thought we’d get it right. So what’s our responsibility now at this moment of unaccustomed influence? Well beyond the age old requirements that we’d be right, we’d be fair, that we’d be clear, I think there’s a requirement now for us to
be transparent more than ever. There are new people who
are reading our work, the work of Washington Journalist, who for the first time are so
excited or so encouraged or so terrified that they’re reading every little thing about the
house intelligence committee or about appeals court
decisions in Maryland or Hawaii. For those folks we owe them proof of why what we do is better. They don’t know it from our name, they must see it in our work. So I did that, I tried to
do some of that last year by putting on social media the
questions that I had asked, the things that I had
learned, how I learned them and also what I hadn’t learned yet, what I wanted to know
or hadn’t figured out. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve
seen other journalist doing it in amazing ways this year and this genre of stories, this new thing we’re all seeing in the Times and the Post and Politico and many other places where people put in the stories exactly how many folks in the
White House leaked to them for their story about
chaos in the White House. And often the number of leakers is greater than the number of people you thought worked in the White House. (audience laughing) Being that transparent helps our readers understand of course
that we’re not fake new but it also helps us by helping us focus on what we know and what we don’t know and spelling it out in a way we didn’t spell it out before
for public consumption. If you call that 20th source
just to get the bigger number in your story,
you might find something the first 19 leakers didn’t tell you, or find out the first
19 leakers were wrong. In my case I also had
this amazing experience of putting questions out to readers, putting unanswered
questions out to readers and finding that they knew things. They had contacts, they had background, they had ideas that I
never would have thought of and they helped me get
things that I thought were just basically impossible. Just to give one brief example, I learned from a tax return in 1989 that the Donald J. Trump foundation had given in that year
a $7 charitable grant to the Boy Scouts, $7. And I thought there’s
got to be a story there but I don’t know what it is. I called the Boy Scouts,
they wouldn’t talk to me. I called the candidate,
he wouldn’t talk to me. It’s 20 something years
ago, I thought well this is basically just
impossible, I’ll never know the answer to this question. I put it out on Twitter
just thinking okay well people’ll get a laugh
out of this but you know, I didn’t even know I was
asking for help is the point. I didn’t think there
was help to be gotten. An hour later my Twitter followers who have contacts, the
knowledge and backgrounds that I could not have
anticipated, had found the answer. In an hour they found the answer. Which was that in 1989, it cost $7 to register your son for the Boy Scouts. So that was the year Donald
Trump Junior turned 11, so old enough to join the Boy Scouts. So I don’t know for
sure that’s what it was, because the Boy Scouts and the president won’t talk to me about
it, but it seems that in 1989 a man who had
just two years earlier written a book that said
he had so much money he could not use anymore,
had used the charity’s money to register his son for the Boy Scouts. (audience laughing) So that’s the kind of
thing that I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t told people that I didn’t know how to get it. So the brightest lights in our profession, including Robin, including Jimmy Breslin who we just lost a few days ago, stand out because they could
make things complicated, people complicated, ideas seem assessable without making them seem simple. And I think right now we
can apply the same thing to ourselves and our work
by providing more details, more of the gears moving,
more of first person accounts of how we report in this era. I think we can show people
how hard we’re working to earn their trust. And my little experiment last year I think provided some really
thrilling evidence that this complexity is
exactly what readers want. So thank you again for allowing me to be honored in Robin Toner’s name. (audience clapping) – Yes there are dark shadows on the earth. But the people we honored tonight have a light that seems
a lot brighter than that. You know I’m so happy that you
all came to this gathering, not just to honor Gwen and
Robin, but to tell America’s political reporters in some small way we’ve got your back. Now an event like this
doesn’t happen unless you can count on more
than just your fingers. Robin has a large and loyal family, especially Bridgett and
Patrick McCall who helped and her sisters Jane and Gretchen, and her kids too, Nora and Jacob. The best of your mom lives on in you. And now for a final
word, Jake’s gonna come with a little benediction. (audience clapping) – Before we let you go, I’d
like to single out some of the people who made this
amazing event happen tonight. I’d like to thank in
particular Chancellor Syverud, Provost Wheatley, and
Dean Branham for doing so much to help the Toner program grow. Governor Kasich for defending
a free press tonight. And in other times the need of Americans, no matter rich or poor
for good healthcare. Our panel of finalists
judges, especially Anne Compton, Adam Clymer,
Evelyn Su, Lonnie Isabel, and Marilee Schwartz. John Chapel for his continuing generosity. Joe Goldman and the
Democracy Fund for seeing a need for new reporting
and supporting it. And the unsung heroes of
this event, Audrey Berry and Luke Miller, Charlotte
Grimes, and my dad whose work is too often unappreciated. (audience clapping) I’d also like to thank all of you. As Nora said earlier, this
year has been tough for facts. For figuring out what’s
going on in the world and it reminds me of a speech
my dad gave seven years ago at the first Toner event. In it he remarked that
he hoped this program would make Nora and I ask
ourselves as we grew older what mom would think,
how she would make sense of the world we live in. I believe that line
holds more significance today than it ever has. The truth is I don’t
know what mom would think about all that’s happened
in the past year, but I know what she would
think about all of you. The only thing she loved more
than reporting was reporters. She had immense respect,
not just for her coworkers but for competitors, for everyone who practiced the craft she held so dear. I think now more than
ever she would appreciate the work all of you have done and the work you will continue to do. I know we do, see you all next year. Good night. (audience clapping)

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